Saturday, June 23, 2012
Bell tolls for Jets' secondary
By Rich Cimini
The Jets' most underrated addition this offseason might be former Dolphins S Yeremiah Bell. They're not getting him in his prime -- he's 34 -- but he's a tough, hard-hitting player that brings experience and leadership to the locker room.
Plus, he's hungry.
In eight seasons with the Dolphins, Bell played in a grand total of one playoff game -- a blowout loss to the Ravens in the 2008 playoffs. In that respect, he's similar to former Jets FB Tony Richardson, a classy vet looking for some postseason glory before he rides off into the sunset.
"I'm craving it," Bell told me during minicamp. "That's what you play for. One year in the playoffs, that was just a tease. It makes you wonder if you'll ever get back. That's one of the reasons why I'm here."
Bell took the Jason Taylor plunge, jumping from one side of the Jets-Dolphins rivalry to the other. In fact, he consulted with Taylor before signing a one-year, $1.4 million contract, receiving a glowing endorsement of the Jets' experience from his old teammate.
If Taylor had a good time -- he used to be Public Enemy No. 1 among Jets fans -- Bell figured he couldn't go wrong.
"Jets fans don't like Jason," Bell said. "If he could do it, I knew I wouldn't have any problem."
The Jets signed Bell to be a starter. Obviously, he's behind in learning the defensive system, but he did a terrific job in minicamp of absorbing the new terminology, according to the coaches. Safety isn't an easy position in the Jets' scheme -- it's highly cerebral -- but Bell has been around long enough to make it a painless transition.
Can he replace the popular Jim Leonhard? Athletically, yes. Leonhard was the glue to the secondary, well-versed in the Ryan/Pettine way. Bell never will have that advantage, but just watch, he will become an important player and locker-room presence for the Jets.